(MENAFN - Arab News) Minister of Higher Education Khaled Al-Anqari underscored the significance of promoting dialogue to achieve peaceful coexistence of peoples across the world.
Describing dialogue as the 'language of the age,' the minister said it is required at all levels of human life in the modern world. Al-Anqari made the remarks while opening the 3rd Edition of the Saudi French Seminar for the Dialogue of Cultures here yesterday.
The Ministry of Higher Education, represented by the cultural attach in Paris, organized the two-day event, in collaboration with the King Abdulaziz University (KAU).
Several prominent figures, including academics, and educational experts from the Saudi and French universities are taking part in the seminar with the theme of "Arab Islamic Thought in Europe: Reality and Role."
The high profile event was regarded as a major step in support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah's call to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogues as a means to establish world peace.
In his opening speech, Al-Anqari stressed the need to further strengthen means of mutual dialogue through curricula and cultural seminars. "There is no doubt that this edition of the seminar, with its working papers, would focus on spreading of knowledge pertaining to the Arab and Islamic culture at French and European universities, whether they are through curricula or through contributions of translators," he said.
Addressing the opening session, Abdullah Al-Turki, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), highlighted the key role being played by the Islamic organizations and centers in non-Muslim countries in promoting dialogue.
"These organizations are fulfilling a great role in strengthening channels of dialogue between the Islamic world and other societies. These centers are serving the Muslim community in addition to striving to achieve integration with the societies in which they live in," he said.
Al-Turki noted that MWL has a plan aimed at achieving integration of Muslim minorities with the society in which they live in, with safeguarding their religious identity and values. He emphasized that Muslim communities in the Western countries and other parts of the world are an extension of the Islamic world and is part of the Muslim Ummah.
The MWL chief drew attention to the defective understanding of some of those working at the Islamic studies departments about Islam. "They do not have proper knowledge about the true nature of Islam and its values," he said.
According to Al-Turki, a large number of Muslims pinned great hope on the speech of US President Barack Obama while he addressed the Muslim world in Cairo after taking over the presidency. Obama said he sought a fresh relationship based upon mutual interest and mutual respect, and based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.
"Even though Obama's speech focused on the mutual respect of peoples without hurting values and characteristic features of each culture, especially in the case of Hijab (veil), the Western media portrayed it in a way that is far away from reality," Al-Turki said while noting that the Palestine issue is still a basic hurdle that stand in the way of strengthening means of dialogue.
There are four sessions for the seminar, of which two were held yesterday. These sessions would focus on Arab and Islamic studies at French and European universities. Annie Cot, economic professor from Sorbonne University in Paris, chaired the first session. During the session, Marcel Andre Boisard presented the first working paper on the topic of "Presence of Islamic-Arab ideas in the International Law" while Saleh Abdul Rahman Al-Manie from King Saud University presented the second paper titled "Erosion of the concept of tolerance in the contemporary world order." Michel Toshirir presented another working paper entitled "French scientific researches related to the Arabian Peninsula since early 20th century."
Salwa bint Muhammad Al-Maiman presented a working paper on "The Arab Islamic thought in European universities," while the last paper was presented by Ibrahim Al-Zayd on the topic of "Fear of Berbers... a significant French addition to the dialogue of civilizations."
Abdullah Al-Khateeb chaired the second session in which Eric Geofrou presented a working paper on projects aimed at establishing a college of Islamic sciences in France. Abdullah Al-Ghamdi presented the second paper on "Studying the culture and sciences of the immigrant Islamic Arab communities and adopting and supporting Arabic language in universities and educational institutions in France and Europe," while Saeed Al-Saeed's paper discussed "Images of Arabs and Muslims in the German general education curriculum."
Abdullah Al-Hamoud presented a working paper on the "Role of scientific studies in formulating a joint international cultural understanding - a critical view of the reality of Arab studies in Europe." Adrian Litas read another paper titled "Who is Al-Ghazali with reference to us in the West" in the same session.
There will be two sessions on the concluding day of the event today. Abdullah Al-Tayer will chair the third session with the theme of "Role of translation in the intellectual continuation." There will be a number of papers focusing on the role of translation in bringing Islamic and Arab thought to Europe. Donier Gharbal will present the first paper of the day "Translation of works in Arab Islamic thought and its impact on France since the middle of the 20th Century." Ameerah Kashghri will present the paper titled "Translation between bridging cultural gaps and widening them." The other papers to be presented in this session are Bandar Al-Otaiby's "Role of Translation in transferring and indigenizing knowledge," Fatehiyah Aqab's "Translation and Arab Islamic thought in Europe," Ibrahim Al-Blui's "Role of translation in cultural contacts: Translating from Arabic and vice versa," Qadriyah Awad's paper on "Significance and role of translation in cultural contacts and dialogues," and Luk Rublosco's "Literary translation between technological knowledge and humanities."
Zuhair Al-Damanhouri will preside over the fourth session that focuses on the Islamic economy. The session will view the economy from a moral perspective and Islam's contribution in creating a link between morality and financial and economic operations and its significance in the light of modern economic challenges. The papers to be read in the session include "Contribution of Islamic jurisprudence in laying down rules of financial transactions," "Principles of modern economic theories and separation between sciences and morality," "Interaction of Western laws (French civil and English common) with the Islamic Jurisprudence," "Some philosophic and economic concepts in Islam pertaining to contemporary financial ethics," "Theory of economic risk and cultural dialogue," "influence of Islamic civilization on Western economy in the past and present," and "Islamic values of financing - positive aspects of a different vision," and "Contribution of Muslim scholars in laying down the foundations of the economic development theories.
Meanwhile, speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the seminar, Abdullah Al-Turkistani, director of the center for Islamic economic studies at KAU, said that there was a tremendous response to embrace the concept of Islamic economics from the European societies, especially in the wake of the economic crisis, which is still affecting some Western countries.
"There is a growing belief among the Western societies that the capitalist economic system is facing bankruptcy. The topic of economics plays a crucial role in strengthening channels of dialogue among peoples," he said.
According to Al-Turkistani, Islamic economics attains greater significance even though it makes up only one percent of the global financial assets. "The annual growth of Islamic economics ranges between 20 and 30 percent," he added.